California visitors to Yosemite National Park will soon notice the return of familiar names for many of the park’s lodgings and visitor destinations. This is because the national park has emerged victorious after a four-year court battle with its former concessionaire. As a result of the lawsuit, several names of iconic structures within the park had to be changed, including hotels, lodges and a popular ski area.
Now that Yosemite National Park has reached a $12 million settlement with its former concessionaire, original names for the affected structures can be restored. A park spokesman has expressed excitement over being able to restore historic names for the park’s various landmarks. When the lawsuit was filed, the concessionaire company, which had handled Yosemite’s lodging, food and retail services for more than 20 years, demanded $50 million to allow the park the right to keep its various names.
Another concessionaire took over the management of certain park services in 2016. Park officials are already restoring the original signage, most of which were only covered up but not fully removed when the legal squabble began. The trademarks and service marks will officially be transferred to the park’s current concessionaire for the duration of its contract with the park service that operates Yosemite. The California regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation said, “The official return is long overdue.” The park’s spokesman said that it will take several weeks or months to correct road signs, room directories and the park’s website.
In order to prevent a similar situation from occurring, a business litigation lawyer may recommend that wording in service contracts be very specific about trademark ownership. It’s often ambiguous wording that leaves the door open for litigation. Should a contracted party threaten legal action, an attorney may attempt to reach a mutually acceptable settlement to avoid possible damage to a company’s brand image.